S9: Ends and Beginnings

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For this assignment, I brought ten books out and typed out the beginnings lines and endings lines. It was really interesting to see the differences and similarities in how the authors wrote them. Enjoy!

Crazy Love by Francis Chan

“We all know something’s wrong.”

“May you be able to say at the end of your life, along with Paul, ‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.’ – 1 Timothy 4:7-8 ESV”

I’m reading this book for a girl’s book study at my house. Chan hooks the reader in at the very beginning, getting us to wonder, “What is he talking about? What do I apparently know is wrong?” The ending sentence fully captures the idea of the book, that we need to fight the good fight and keep our faith strong in Christ, which, as he stated at the beginning, isn’t what many Christians are doing right now. When you’re in love with someone, it changes everything, and this book is all about being in love with God.

Duskin by Grace Livingston Hill

“Carol Berkley was still at work in the inner office when the men arrived.”

“’The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her.’”

Hill writes Christian romance, but this one was focused a lot on the action and mystery, which was cool too. The first sentence describes the main character in her office when “the men” or the main villains of the story, arrive. This sets the stage for all the work she does throughout the book in trying to stop the bad guys. Because of her determination to do the right thing, she meets a great guy named Duskin who begins to trust her a lot… and yes, they get married at the end!

Winnie-the-Pooh by Ernest H. Shepard

“Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin.”

“He nodded and went out… and in a moment I heard Winnie-the-Pooh—bump, bump, bump—going up the stairs behind him.”

This just wants me to go “Awww!” because this book is simply adorable. The style is so delightful to read from beginning to end. I love how Shepard goes full circle in describing Christopher Robin taking Pooh downstairs at the beginning of the book to play with his animals, and then going back upstairs at the end of all the crazy tales.

When the Heart Cries by Cindy Woodsmall

“Hannah Lapp covered the basket of freshly covered eggs with her hand, glanced behind her, and bolted down the dirt road.”

“Regardless of the ways things turned out between them, God had a plan.”

This is the first Amish book I ever read, and besides the second two in the series, they are the only Amish books I plan to read, at least for now (I’m not particularity a fan of them, but they’re all right!). Hannah Lapp is an innocent girl at the beginning of the book, which the first sentence captures really well. The last sentence gives a shout-out to the next book to get you to want to read more. It also shows the development of her character from an innocent girl to a young woman who has learned throughout the book to look to God instead of people for her value and purpose.

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

“A throng of bearded men, in sad-colored garments and gray, steeple-crowned hats, intermixed with women, some wearing hoods, and others bareheaded, was assembled in front of a wooden edifice, the door of which was heavily timbered with oak, and studded with iron spikes.”

“‘On a Field, Sable, The Letter A, Gules.’”

The beginning sentence really captures the sad mood of the first chapter, as the Puritans are prepared to bring judgment on the main character, Hester, who has committed adultery. Throughout this book, Hawthorne focuses a lot on description, and often uses colors to help the reader picture things in his or her mind, but also to capture the mood of what’s going on. So, the last sentence, which basically says that the red letter A is in a black background, simply gives a description at first glance. But it also may be describing that the sin of adultery went with Hester even after her death (trust me, guys, I had no idea what the last sentence meant till I looked it up!). So yeah, this is a gloomy book, where both the first and last sentences convey a sad mood.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

“It was a pleasure to burn.”

…And the leaves of the tree were the healing of the nations. Yes, thought Montag, that’s the one I’ll save for noon. For noon… When we reach the city.”

The above sentences reveal the main character, Montag’s transformation throughout the book. He loves to burn books at the beginning of this story, but by the end, instead of desiring to destroy knowledge, he wants to bring it back to the broken world in order to heal it. This is a beautiful conclusion of a profound story about the value and importance of books.

Riley Unlikely by Riley Banks-Snyder with Lisa Velthouse

“If anything has been clear to me over the past seven years, it’s the link between love and craziness.”

“We can’t wait to live with and serve the people of Kibwezi, surrounded by the sounds of children.”

This is a lovable, inspiring memoir about a fourteen-year-old girl who starts a ministry for children in Africa. The first sentence actually comes from the prologue, but I thought I’d use it instead of the one from chapter 1, because it portrays Riley’s heartwarming style. The ending captures that same love she has in her heart, and it really brings out one of the themes of the book: joyfully serving God where He calls you.

Set-Apart Femininity by Leslie Ludy

“It happened when I was 14.”

“Let us live, looking up, looking on, standing true by the grace of Him who called us.” – Amy Carmichael 1867-1961

This is a big slam-you-in-the-face conviction book for young and old women alike. The first sentence leads into a personal story Leslie shares. I love her style of relating personal life stories to reveal how genuine faith works. The last sentence is a wake-up call to action, which is really the theme of the whole book. This non-fiction book really motivates women to live set-apart lives for Christ as lilies among thorns.

The Last Sin Eater by Francine Rivers

“The first time I saw the sin eater was the night Granny Forbes was carried to her grave.”

“For ye are my own little bits of heaven.”

The title of this book may sound weird, but the first sentence goes right into helping you know what on earth a “sin eater” is, which really is what the book is all about. According to legend, the sin eater eats food at funerals, which supposedly eats the dead person’s sins away, letting it consume himself instead, so only he will go to hell and not the dead person. But in this story, a young girl, Cadi, learns of the ultimate sin eater, Jesus, and is changed forever. The last sentence is a sweet scene at the very end, when Cadi is now a grandmother saying goodnight to her grandchildren. It’s interesting that the first and last sentences have something to do with grandmothers. The books starts with the death of Cadi’s grandmother and confusion about the sin eater, and ends with herself being a grandmother with assurance of the ultimate sin eater, Jesus, as she loves and adores her grandchildren. This is an amazing book, and I wish I had time to tell you more about it!

A Voice in The Wind by Francine Rivers

“The city was silently bloating in the hot sun, rotting like the thousands of bodies that lay where they had fallen in street battles.”

“Hunching over, he covered his head and wept.”

This is my favorite book aside from the Bible. Like literally, you need to go buy it right now! Anyway *tries to calm down* the first sentence showcases Rivers’ amazing descriptive style and has a gloomy mood because of the enormous amount of deaths. The last sentence also conveys sorrow because the man believes his true love has died. The intensity and emotion displayed in both of these sentences consists throughout much of the novel. This book is a page-turner, has strong Christian messages, and will endear you to the characters. Warning: you have to be fairly tough skinned to read it, because of how intense it gets at times.

Hope you enjoyed my list! Do you all have any favorite beginnings and/or endings of books?  I would love to hear them!

Speaking of which, I will close with the ending of The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis, which is probably my favorite book endings ever (it’s the last Narnia book): “All their life in this world and all their adventures had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”

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S8: The Healer of Istagun Seen and Heard

For the sandbox assignment this week, I was supposed to answer these questions: What song would be the film score for your story? What book would be your main character’s favorite? What TV show(s) would they watch? Perhaps do a celebrity casting. Which famous Hollywood actors would portray your characters best in a movie?

Song: “You’ll be in my heart” by Phil Collins

This song so accurately portrays Dahlia’s love for Hollis throughout the story. So sweet!

Book: “The Healing Touch of Jesus” by Dr. Richard Lee

I’ve never read this book, but it sounds like the perfect thing Dahlia would need… Yeah, I’m not sure she’d pick it up in a bookstore, especially since there are not bookstores in Istagun, and Jesus does not exist in my story world. But if you just changed “Jesus” to “Gesu” it would work perfectly. Gesu represents Jesus, and Dahlia is curious about Gesu’s healing throughout the story and strives to get it for her sister Hollis.

TV series: “ER” created by Michael Crichton

I’ve never watched this, but considering Dahlia’s determination to heal her sister, she might watch it in hopes there might be some medical advice that would help find a cure to the plague.

And for the famous actress… I chose Daisy Ridley.

Dahlia

Daisy Ridley

S7: Dahlia’s Speech

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For this Creative Writing assignment, I was supposed to write about my main character in my novella, The Healer of Istagun, making a speech. Here, Dahlia makes a speech to humans about rising above Queen Hazina’s gripping control (also I read world history for almost 3 hours today, so maybe some of that is affecting some of this speech too ;P). I hope you enjoy! 😊

Humans crowded around me, eager to hear what I had to say. A speech, they cried! And didn’t I have plenty to say? Yet in the face of these people I wanted to contract into a ball and hide away forever in a dark cave. My mind blanked, and I couldn’t think of a single word. Where was the passion I had when I poured out long monologues into the night to the empty audiences of silence?

Tarquin leaned in and whispered in my ear, “Just talk about the queen.”

The queen. Oh, that horrid, mystical creature! Tarquin knew how to get me going.

I cleared my throat. “Well, Queen Hazina is… awful.”

To my relief, the crowd cheered. So, I soon forgot about them and began to think of only the queen’s awful deeds. “She certainly is trying to destroy us. The Treelanders are a stronger species of humans, and they will make Istagun produce a better economy. It’s simple and practical in her mind.”

I squeezed my eyes shut and then opened them again, drawing a deep breath. “She wants us all to die from the plague, but we can’t let her have her way. We have a reason to live beyond working the orchards of Spring, the fields of Summer and Autumn, or dying in the snowstorms of Winter. We’re worth something to each other and that is enough reason to stay alive. Even if the Treelanders become her laboring force in her economical world, we’ll always be forces of love in our own little worlds.”

Tarquin smiled at me as the crowd roared with enthusiasm.

Bolstered by everyone’s fervent support, I continued. “Gesu has given us the power to love beyond our natural abilities as humans. His healing not only restores our physical bodies, but restores our inner souls. With his powers, I’ve found the values of kindness, joy, and peace resonating within me. Not only that, but faith in Gesu himself ties us in with an eternal story that brings us to a place we can finally say: this is right; this is how I’ve always wanted it to be. Our souls our fulfilled through Gesu, now and even after we die. I do not know how I know this, but Gesu teaches our spirits beyond normal communication.” I glanced up at the wondrous spectacle of stars. “And here we are, together, forever. Queen Hazina has no power over us, whether we die or stay alive. Long live Gesu!”

S6: Tarquin’s Perspective

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This is a scene from chapter 5 of my ten-chapter fantasy novella, The Healer of Istagun, told from Tarquin’s perspective. Enjoy! To see the original chapter 5, click here.

“Tarquin, am I going to be okay? Do you think I’ll get over this?” My sister Mara’s hollowed dark eyes pleaded me.

I could hardly bear the sight of her weak figure and pale face splotched with tumors. Would she be sent to Winter with the dying ones before she got well enough?

Before I could answer her, I heard a knock at the door. Wondering who it could be, I rushed to open it.

Dahlia, with her wild brown hair and beautiful dark eyes, stood there, with a young Spring boy at her side. My heart stopped.

“Hi, Dahlia,” I said in greeting.

She blushed, no doubt surprised I remembered her name. I was half embarrassed I had.

“Oh, never mind,” she said quickly. “I thought this was where the younger boys or girls—”

“—it is. My sister is here.” I raked my hand through my hair, worried that Mara thought I’d left her forever. Her brain was in a muddled state due to the plague. “I was caring for her and the rest of them since they have no one else to help them.”

Dahlia’s face paled whiter than the sick ones. “We came here to…” She cleared her throat, but before she could finish, the Spring boy held out a basket of fresh buns.

“Want some, sir?” His voice was small; I hadn’t seen a Spring boy in so long. He was adorable.

Dahlia smiled a little. “We were giving them out to the sick.”

Her concern for the sick ones warmed my heart. I wondered if she knew Gesu. Not just knew about him, but knew him, like I did. Gesu’s kind-heartedness, after all, inspired me to tend to these girls.

I watched Dahlia for a moment as she stared around the room, as if searching for something, or perhaps someone. Then she and the Spring boy began handing out the fresh buns.

I rushed to my sister’s side. “I’m here now.”

Mara struggled to open her heavy eyelids. “Tarquin, I love you.”

“I love you, too.” I dabbed a wet cloth on her forehead. “You’ll be all right, sis.”

Suddenly I noticed a green fairy entering the room. “Attention, everyone!” she shouted. “Queen Hazina has made a new decree for the lands of Spring, Summer, and Autumn: ‘All the sick must proceed to Winter.’ The ‘sick’ are defined by the queen as ‘those unable to work for her majesty.’ Therefore, if you do not stand up within five seconds, you will be taken immediately to Winter.” Four other green fairies stood by, with chains ready.

I stood up straight, but the sick ones couldn’t even begin to sit up. I stared at Dahlia from across the room, not taking my eyes off her as her dark eyes drew me in. I hadn’t stopped thinking about her since Gesu’s miracle session a few days ago. She hadn’t wanted to marry anyone, but I could fix that.

When the door closed sharply, I realized then that the fairies had indeed taken away the sick ones, leaving Dahlia, Kari, and me behind.

I dropped my gaze from Dahlia, thinking of Mara, dear Mara. I should have tried to save her, to help her stand somehow.

“Can I eat a bun?” Kari asked the young woman.

After a pause, Dahlia told him he could have them all.

The boat. She needed to see the boat. If we were some of the only few left well and alive in Summer, she needed to know about it, in case the time came for us to leave Istagun.

“Dahlia.” Her name came out weaker than I intended. “I want you to see something.”

“I’ll be right back, Kari.”

Her willingness to follow me surprised me. Was I so attractive that I could change her mind about me within a few days?

I led her down to the dark, filthy basement. Perhaps I was a fool to bring a pretty girl down to this place. I probably was just going to scare her off. Still, it was important she knew.

“The boys wouldn’t let me use theirs, so I come here sometimes and…”

I lit a lantern, revealing the boat I’d spent hours laboring over.

“It’s called a boat,” I said quietly.

“A boat?” She stared at me, almost blissfully, and my heart ached.

“I built it, so I could one day travel across the seas, to the mountains. There are rumors about these people called Treelanders, who live in the forests. I want to meet them, to escape this Summer, and to be free.” I gazed off into the dark basement, remembering the stories I’d heard from the Gesu-following fairies. They dreamed of traveling to the Treelanders to live among them and share the goodness of Gesu with them.

“It floats?”

I stifled a laugh. “Well, I hope so. A fairy used to tell me stories, so that’s all I have to go off of.”

Dahlia grimaced. “Why are you showing me this?”

Her question caught me off guard, but I shrugged. “You and I… we’re some of the only few left here, and—”

“—and we have responsibilities!” She folded her arms across her chest. “You can’t just leave everyone here to die, while you go on a silly adventure to a land far away!”

I lowered the lantern from my face, grimacing at her biting remark. So, she thought I was an idiot. I could change that.

“I showed this to you so you’d know, when the time came,” I said steadily, though inside I shook at her entrancing gaze. “But you’re right. Now is not the time for adventures… Now is the time to find Gesu.”

“Gesu?” she asked softly.

“Yes, Dahlia. He’s the only one who can save us.” I searched her face, willing her to believe me. Of course she believed. She had seen the miracles. But there was so much more to just believing in what Gesu could do. You had to believe in who He was.

“Tarquin,” she whispered, “can he bring the dead back to life?”

I frowned, unable to grasp why she’d expect so much from the man. “I don’t know. Why do you ask?”

“I need to find my sister, Hollis. She’s been sick for years. I don’t know where she is, or even if she’s still…” Her voice cracked unexpectedly, and she turned to leave.

I wanted to reach out and clasp hold of her small hand, but I restrained myself.

“Wait, Dahlia,” I said, thinking of my own sister, and how I’d be just as anxious to find Mara as Dahlia seemed about finding Hollis. “Is that why you came to this hut? To find your sister?”

“Yeah.” She took a step up the stairs.

“Oh.”

I stared at the back of her head where her dark curls cascaded down to her waist. I couldn’t let her leave. And we both knew that Gesu was the only cure to this plague.

“Let’s go to Autumn to get Gesu,” I suggested. “He can heal everyone choked by the plague—and your sister, once we find her. She’s probably in Winter. We’ll figure something out and…”

I watched as she stormed upstairs, her sobs resonating down to me in the dark basement. My heart went out to her. Both of our sisters were gone.

Only Gesu could help us now.

S5: Chapter 5 of Love Myles

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(Photo by Bryan Goff on Unsplash)

So this week in my creative writing class the assignment was to write chapter 5 of someone else’s novella in the class! I chose Megan N’s Love Myles book. It was definitely a challenge, but now I almost want to write the rest of her book! It’s a great story. Go check out her novel blog here.

Dear Ruthie,

I had a dream last night. I know I used to tell you about my dreams all the time, and they never made sense. But this one did.

It was about you.

You were smiling at me. We were running across an open glade. Earth. It was surprising, like seeing an old friend. The one blazing sun, the wide blue sky, and the fields of grass.
Finally, we climbed up the ladder to the tree house, and you told me a story. You smiled at me again, but suddenly the tree house shook and the whole earth quaked like it was being juggled in the universe by the hand of God.

I couldn’t see anymore. I couldn’t see your smile. I heard you crying out to me, and I tried to reach for you, but I felt the wood of the treehouse collapsing and I heard my heart pounding so loudly until everything caught on fire, scorching my skin and blinding me.

And then it was gone. Not just the treehouse, but the sun, the sky, the grass—and you, Ruthie. I cried out for you, but you were gone.

It was so dark. Clearly, I miscalculated when I’d hit the ground again. The whole Earth disappeared, and it was only me. Only me and the stars.

But I awoke again, so I know now it was just a dream. That only confirms the reality that I’m here, and not with you. It confirms that I will never see you again. I have to admit this truth, but I can’t stop writing to you either. I have to continue on, without forgetting the past. I have to keep going, with the fleeting hope that you’re here with me through all this, reading about my travels.

Soshomia has convinced Cola’s parents to let him travel with us. I don’t know if I want him to come, since his vain endeavors to act like a human reminds me that I’m so far away from home. But Soshomia is determined he comes with us. He is only one of a few who can speak English. He may help us find the answers to why I am here, and how I got here.

We took off from Fabulinus in the late morning.

“You excited, man?” Cola grinned at me.

“Yeah.” I shrugged. His use of “man” annoyed me. My guy friends in high school always talked like that, but a green monkey-human-alien wasn’t supposed to talk like that. Especially not thousands of years in the future.

“How are we going to do this, Soshomia?” I asked.

I was anxious to get back to Sidhe. The few days I had been there with Soshomia had already made me feel like it was somehow home. Not Earth home, but a temporary home anyway.

Soshomia didn’t seem to be hearing me as she worked the controls on the ship.

“I mean, how are we going to find the answers?”

“We’re going to the planet Huro,” she said finally. “There’s a man who knows about ships…. and humans.”

So she did have a plan. I wondered if she had been sorting the words out in her head to make sure she spoke it properly.

“Your English is getting better,” I told her.

That put a smile on her face. Whenever she smiles, she makes me think of you.

“What’s up, guys?” Cola asked suddenly, even though he had been hanging with us this whole time. “What are we trying to figure out, anyway?”

I laughed a little but didn’t answer.

“Myles… mysterious!” Soshomia pointed at me as her eyes sparkled. She was a very simple person—if a person is what you’d call her—but she was somehow beautiful.

Cola looked at me and patted me on the back. “Mysterious. Hm. Well if we’re going to solve a mystery like they do in Sherlock Holmes, I’m in!”

Soshomia looked extremely confused.

I shook my head. This guy never ceased to amaze me with his knowledge about Earth.

“We don’t know how I got here, two thousand years into the future,” I explained to him.

“And we don’t know what happened to the rest of my friends on the space mission.”

His eyes widened and then he scratched his neck. “Well, yeah, I was wondering I guess about how you came here. That’s really weird!”

“Answers found here, I’m hoping,” Soshomia said, pointing down at the little brown planet we saw through the clear glass window of the ship.

Answers. I don’t know why, but I hate the idea. I’m angry that we have to find anything. Part of me just wants to drift off into space and forget. But at the same time I know Soshomia is doing what she can to help me. And I keep telling myself that if you were here, you’d do the same.

We landed on Huro with a jolt. It was a desert, with strange creatures of all shapes and sizes passing through a market place.

After Soshomia received the intelligent man’s address, we arrived at his house. He had a bald head and was much larger than the tallest humans I’ve ever known. He had red eyes and red fingernails, but his body was human-shaped.

“Hello,” he said in Likpirksar. Evidently, we were not far from Sidhe.

Soshomia chirped some words back that I couldn’t quite understand.

The alien giant let us into his enormous house and pointed to leather chairs for us to sit on. Only I was certain the chairs were made from an animal very different than a cow, leather was just the closest thing to what it looked and felt like.

As the man pressed some buttons on a machine, a screen appeared on the stone wall with numbers, all while Soshomia chattered on and on to him in Likpirksar.

Two thousand years ago. That’s what Soshomia was saying. So much time had passed.

Soon I saw the same numbers on the screen: 2000. It went black for a moment as the man pressed more buttons, and then a picture and an article appeared. The picture was of a ship. My ship.

“This was sent around the galaxies,” Cola exclaimed, translating their words for me. “And they don’t know how it disappeared, along with its passengers. The article is about the mystery of this disappearing space mission.”

Soshomia’s Likpirksar was clearer now. She was telling the giant who I was.

Suddenly, the man’s calloused face turned as red as his eyes and his massive body ran towards me. Soshomia and Cola cried out, but they were hopeless to do anything. I struggled to fight against him, but it was no use against his strong arms.

That’s why I’m here now, Ruthie. Here under the ground of a strange planet, writing to you.

I’ll write again soon.

Love,
Myles

 

S4: Facing Fears Mad Lib

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Here is a mad lib for you all! The paragraph is taken from one of my short stories, Facing Fears. Try it out! Comment your results! 😊

Word List:

Verb:

Adverb:

Adjective:

Plural noun:

Adjective:

Plural noun:

Noun:

Verb:

Verb:

Adjective:

Mad Lib:

I _____ (verb) _____ (adverb) across the bridge, hoping to prove to Shauna that I was truly _____ (adjective). The layer of (plural noun) over the river was _____(adjective), but I didn’t mind anymore. I was elated at my discovery that my ______ (plural noun) could be conquered. A sparrow in a (noun) across the bank (verb) at me, but then (verb) away in a panic, along with its ______ (adjective) family.

Original paragraph:

I strode easily across the bridge, hoping to prove to Shauna that I was truly brave. The layer of fog over the river was heavy, but I didn’t mind anymore. I was elated at my discovery that my fears could be conquered. A sparrow in a tree across the bank winked at me, but then fluttered away in a panic, along with its whole family.

 

S3: Come Visit Istagun!

For this Creative Writing assignment, I was supposed to create a vacation flyer or brochure for the setting of my 10 chapter fantasy novella, The Healer of Istagun. I hope you enjoy! =)

 

Istagun

Come visit the island of Istagun!
Take a dip at Kaskata Falls or surround yourself with riches
in Queen Hazina’s palace—both located in the center of
the island!
Fun fact: Formally an
ordinary island with
changing seasons, now thanks
to Queen Hazina’s powers, Istagun is an island of 4 separate lands and seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter

 

 

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If you adore small children, breathtaking flowers, and luscious fruits, Spring
is the place for you!

 

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Summer is your hot spot for finding that special someone—
visit weddings and baby showers galore, where the sun always shines!

 

 

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Come on down to Autumn to reap the harvest
and sit back and relax with old friends
and pumpkin pie!

 

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Visit Winter to throw snowballs all year long—and feel welcomed by little old ladies brewing tea!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

S2: Quotes for My Novella

My work-in-progress novella, The Healer of Istagun, has a few themes. Here are some quotes to explain them!

Theme: God heals our wounds through His blood.

“Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” ~ Isaiah 53:4-5

“But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,’ declares the LORD” ~ Jeremiah 30:17

“Christ is the Good Physician. There is no disease He cannot heal; no sin He cannot remove; no trouble He cannot help.” – James H. Aughey

“But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves.” – Malachi 4:2

Theme: He strengthens us through His sacrifice.

“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13 ESV

If it doesn’t cost you anything, what is there to gain? – Grace Caylor

“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” – Ephesians 2:13

Theme: Love is sacrifice.

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” – 1 Peter 4:8

“Brotherhood means laying down your life for somebody, really willing to sacrifice yourself for somebody else.” — Tim Hetherington

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” – John 15:13

Cooking For Hollis

gaelle-marcel-101871.jpg(Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash)

In which my main character, Dahlia, of my fantasy novella, The Healer of Istagun, finds herself on the TV show Chopped, on Food Network.

Dahlia paced into the room, heart beating quickly as the judges greeted her. She made her way to her kitchen set up, where she’d be fixing up a dessert to win the judges’ approval. She didn’t really know this man and this lady, but she had to do this, for her sister’s sake. She imagined Hollis at home, eyes glued to the TV, waiting for her beloved older sister to become the next greatest chef on Food Network.

Dahlia grumbled inside as a bubbly middle-aged lady named Freida with frizzy blonde hair came in, much more stylishly dressed than herself. What outlandish things people wore in the land of Autumn! (In Dahlia’s world, middle-aged people live in the land called Autumn.) The judges were middle-aged too, so surely they were helplessly taken captive by this lady’s charms. Dahlia hadn’t known what to wear or how to act—this wasn’t fair!

A young man named Jonas in a bright orange t-shirt followed, smiling to show his perfectly white teeth contrasted with his dark-chocolatey skin. He reminded her of Tarquin, but Dahlia had to shake the feeling off. She had to beat this man. She had to beat them all.

After that an older man named Carl with a gray beard and bright blue eyes entered, his shoulders stooped, but his genuine hand shake and kind words earning the judges’ quick admiration. His gentle, quiet manner reminded her immediately of Gesu.

At last, it was time.

The judge opened the picnic basket to reveal the three ingredients they must use in this dessert… Refried beans, pickle juice, and butternut squash.

What!?

Dahlia was sure her stupid expression was being portrayed to thousands of people all over the world this very moment. She laughed to herself. Including Hollis.

Quickly, she grabbed the sugar—always a good start for dessert.

She rolled in some flour, baking powder, and salt, then added the squash. A good thickener, maybe?

“Dahlia is making the base of her dessert, whatever it is. How are you doing, Dahlia?”

Never looking up at the man, Dahlia cut in some butter and added some milk, vanilla, and eggs to the flour mixture, whisking it frantically. “Um, yeah…”

The man laughed. “Dahlia is too busy to talk, and look over here, Frieda is making a luscious chocolate pie with the refried beans.”

The man’s voice droned on as Dahlia poured the flour mixture into a pan. But what would she do with the beans and pickle juice?

“30 more minutes!” called out someone.

This was insane. Hollis was probably laughing her head off right now.

Groaning, Dahlia quickly shoved the pan in the oven. She grabbed another bowl and threw in the refried beans and pickle juice, soon stirring it quickly. Sweat dripped down her face as she dumped in sugar and chocolate into the bowl.

Should she open the oven and put this bean mixture on the cake now? No, later. It could be the frosting or something.

“10 more minutes!”

Dahlia took out the cake and let it sit for a few minutes, as she eyed the others making ice-cream or pie—or something yummier than her ridiculous cake.

“1 more minute!”

What!?

Time had flown. Dahlia spread the bean mixture onto the cake that was hopefully cool, sliced two pieces for the judges and took a breath—just as the timer rang.

One by one the judges tasted the contestants’ desserts: Frieda’s chocolate pie, Jonas’ scones, and Carl’s ice cream with a thick chocolate-bean spread.

“This has no flavor!” the lady judge cried as she licked the brown spread.

Carl smiled quietly, but Frieda broke into laughter. “That’s what you get for giving us refried beans!” she declared.

Finally, the judges sliced their forks into Dahlia’s cake. They chewed slowly, leaving Dahlia’s heart pounding. Hollis would be so sad. Hollis would—

“Mmm…” The man murmured thoughtfully.

“This is… wonderful!” the lady exclaimed.

They couldn’t seem to say anything else for five minutes straight. Dahlia grinned. So, she had left them speechless.

Hollis would be so proud.

Sandbox: How You Might Feel About My New Novella

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(Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash)

Warning: Spoiler Alert! I will be posting the chapters week by week, so don’t read this if you don’t want the story spoiled. 😉
This assignment was to imagine someone opening your completed novella and describe how they might think and feel about it.

Trinity Peters browsed the bookshelf at the library. Her eyes caught onto a colorful book with the title, The Healer of Istagun. She slid it out, examined the back cover, sat down in a comfy chair, and read it carefully.

The book took her on a fantasy journey with a young girl named Dahlia, who was trying to find her sick sister. Trinity thought about her mother who was in the hospital with breast cancer and understood the scary unknowns of illness. She found the powerful healer Gesu quite fascinating, and she wished there was some quick cure in real life.

Prima the fairy was always jabbering on about whatever, which got Trinity to chuckle a bit. That fairy and Dahlia seemed to be in some love-hate relationship. Trinity wished Dahlia would realize how much Prima was helping her.

As Tarquin showed his ship in the basement that he had built in hopes to sail away from this land of enslavement, Trinity couldn’t help but want Dahlia and Tarquin to end up together in the end. But Dahlia kept shoving his kindness and special attention aside. Why wouldn’t this girl give the poor guy a chance? She read faster, wondering how Dahlia’s heart was going to change.

Andrea was a bit annoying, Trinity had to admit. Dahlia had a point about bringing misery on her children if she got married, since the parents and children had to be separated immediately after birth. Those evil fairies were certainly evil! And Andrea seemed absolutely clueless, wanting Dahlia to just have fun with her life and marry somebody.

The story world naturally intrigued Trinity. Queen Hazina was a powerhouse, wanting all the age groups separated into never-ending seasons. If Trinity never saw her parents or didn’t know anything about them, she’d be totally confused and lost in the world. There wouldn’t be older people to give advice. Now that she thought about it, she’d probably do a lot of foolish things if only peers surrounded her. She couldn’t imagine the pain of being separated from children she had as soon as she gave birth. And with working as a slave all the time to that wicked Queen, she knew she’d be infuriated by the injustice of it all!

As the book approached the climax, Trinity wondered how Dahlia and Tarquin were going to help the hundreds of sick people, if Gesu was really dead. She watched as the two got his blood and fed it to the sick. Ew! Were these people actually vampires? But no, Gesu’s blood actually turned out to magically heal the sick and give them extraordinary power. Wait, was this some allegory thing? Trinity thought. Did Gesu represent Jesus saving us and giving us the Holy Spirit, after His blood was shed for us? These thoughts confirmed in Trinity’s mind the power of Jesus’ death.

The book ended with Tarquin the King of Istagun, asking Dahlia to be his wife so they could venture to the land across the sea to take the Treelanders home and to explore the new land. Clearly, the spirit of Gesu was with them all.

Trinity set down the book, realizing the library was just now closing. Great. Just in time. She went home pondering sickness and healing, the relationship between age groups in society, and the power of Jesus’ blood, which brought her life in abundance.

Well, this might be an idealized version of what I hope readers will get from my novella. But with God’s help, perhaps I can give you something worthwhile and meaningful for you to enjoy and think about.